Lakeland Police officers began chasing a stolen car after it was discovered at a gas station on Lakeland Hills Boulevard on February 7, 2017. Prior to locating the stolen vehicle, the Plant City Police Department had requested backup for a stolen car vehicle that was headed toward Lakeland on I-4. After a traffic stop was attempted, the driver of the stolen car drove away on SR33 and was only stopped by a crash in Polk City, causing the vehicle to erupt into flames.
No Blaze Of Glory For Anyone
In Florida, every insurance company that I am aware of has an exclusion for vehicle theft. This means that any damage that is caused by the thief is not covered by liability insurance (bodily injury or property damage). It is no consolation that the driver got hauled off to jail when your car gets totaled by a stolen vehicle or you get injured during the chase. If you have purchased collision coverage on your vehicle, then your own insurance company will cover the loss. If you don’t have collision on your own policy, then you may be out of luck unless you can collect from the thief, which is not very likely.
How Should You Protect Yourself From Vehicle Theft?
Aside from securing your vehicle and being aware at all times, the right insurance coverage will help. I have written about what types of automobile coverage you should have in Florida. Because liability insurance is excluded from virtually every automobile policy in Florida when a vehicle is stolen, a stolen vehicle is considered an “uninsured motorist” in the State of Florida. When it comes to coverage for injuries, UM coverage is the best way to protect yourself from a stolen vehicle. Generally speaking, you should buy as much UM coverage as you can afford. Your UM coverage is required to pay for your:
- past and future medical expenses
- past and future pain and suffering or loss of enjoyment of capacity of life
- lost wages or diminished future earning capacity
- loss of consortium damages to a spouse by reason of your injury
In a UM case, you sue your own insurance company who stands in the shoes of the uninsured driver. The jury is aware of the fact that you are suing an insurance company but the jury is not told anything beyond that.
What If You Don’t Have UM Coverage On Your Automobile Policy?
If you don’t have UM coverage on your policy, then you are not necessarily out of luck (but the odds are against you). If the owner of the stolen vehicle did something negligent, such as leaving the keys in the ignition at a gas station, then the owner of the stolen vehicle doesn’t get off the hook because of the insurance exclusion for theft.
The reason is because a car is considered a “dangerous instrumentality” in Florida and the owner has a legal duty to secure it and protect it from unauthorized use. Therefore, an owner who was “negligent” in permitting their vehicle to be stolen will be held legally responsible for damage caused by the thief. Contrast this with a situation where the thief “hotwires” the car. The insurance exclusion will apply if the owner did nothing wrong to cause the vehicle to be stolen.
So What About My Car?
If the owner contributed to the vehicle theft by being negligent in some manner, then property damage coverage will pay for damages to your car after it is hit by a stolen vehicle. However, if there is no negligence on the part of the owner, then you will need collision coverage for pay for that accident (this is different than comprehensive, which would cover vandalism). You should buy collision coverage if you cannot afford to purchase a new vehicle in the event that you need to. When buying insurance, you have to balance your appetite for risk against how much you want to pay in premiums for the coverage. This is simply an economic decision.
Call A Lakeland Car Accident To Discuss Your Case
If you have been injured or damaged by a stolen vehicle, you should contact a Lakeland car accident attorney for a free discussion about your case. If we think that we can help you, then we will accept your case on a contingency fee, which means no fees or costs unless money is recovered. Call for your free appointment today.
— LakelandPD (@LakelandPD) February 7, 2017